As the days grow shorter, the nights cooler and the kids are singing the chorus of "We're bored"; it brings up the subject of going back to school. With the upcoming season, we find it prudent to remind our customers of the school bus laws and school zone safety.
All of us have gotten stuck behind a school bus on our way to work or to run an errand. It can be frustrating to wait behind this object that is potentially going to make us late or run behind on our daily plans. Have you been tempted to pass the bus? Many have been tempted, some do with disastrous results.
Did you know…
That more children are killed or injured outside a school bus every year than inside one?
That most of these deaths and injuries occur during daylight hours and in clear weather?
That children react differently than adults to traffic situations?
They act impulsively, can be pre-occupied and act spontaneously, disregarding safety, darting out into traffic.
They do not understand vehicle speed or required stopping distances.
They are not aware that their physical size may limit their ability to be seen.
They do not recognize the school bus driver’s limitations.
That the state of Washington has laws for motorists to help prevent needless deaths and injuries by requiring them to stop for certain loading/unloading procedures?
That violation of these laws can result in a citation and a fine in Washington of $177 and up to $500 in Idaho which will not only affect your driving record, but also your auto insurance rates?
You must stop for the school bus when the stop paddle is out and the lights are flashing if:
1. You are traveling either direction on a two lane road.
2. You are traveling the same direction as the bus and you are on a road with more that two lanes of traffic.
3. You are traveling the same direction as the bus on a road with a two-way turn lane.
PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE. WATCH OUT FOR CHILDREN!
School Zones can be equally tricky and dangerous if drivers are not paying attention. Observe the signage now!
What are school zones?
School Zones are areas near marked school crosswalks that are found adjacent to school grounds. The crosswalks are generally placed where it is desired and safest for school children to cross. For elementary school age students these locations are often monitored by a crossing guard or school patrol, pleas observe and obey them as they help our children cross safely.
Regarding the allowable driving speed in designated elementary school zones, Washington law states that the "Speed limit is 20 miles per hour when children are present." This reduced speed is in effect whenever there are children in the school zone, not just during school hours.
Parking may be restricted the area near school crosswalks to allow motorists to see children and reduce speed slowly, thus minimizing the risk of rear end collisions.
What are the official guidelines?
The State of Washington Revised Code (RCW or State Law) states: "It shall be unlawful for a driver of any vehicle to operate the vehicle in excess of 20 miles per hour when passing any marked school crosswalk when such crosswalk is fully posted with standard school speed limit signs." The RCW further states: "The speed zone at the (school) crosswalk shall extend three hundred feet in either direction from the marked crosswalk."
Where would we normally expect to see marked school crosswalks?
School crosswalks are normally marked at, or adjacent to, elementary schools. Other locations may also be marked if: they are part of an approved school walking route and the crossing is at an intersection where there is a substantial conflict between vehicle and pedestrian movements; or where significant school age pedestrian concentrations occur; or where pedestrians could not otherwise recognize the proper place to cross. Examples of such locations are:
• Approved school crossings with either adult crossing guard or school patrol.
• Signalized intersections where there are pedestrian signals and where one or more crossing locations have been prohibited.
Why are high schools signed differently?
Because of the age and experience of the high school students, the Speed Limit 20 When Children Are Present, is not appropriate since these students are able to better judge when and where it is safe for them to cross.
However, since high schools are OPEN campus’, as opposed to CLOSED campus’ at elementary schools, the high school students may be entering and leaving the school grounds at any time during the school day. Therefore, a Speed Limit 20 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is in effect at all high schools in Spokane.
By observing the school bus and zone laws we will all have a safer school year!
Resources: http://www.spokanestreetdepartment.org/faqs%5Cschoolzone.htm; Stop for the school bus brochures distributed by the Washington State office of the Superintendent of Public Education;http://www.cdaschools.org/departments/transportation.htm
1406 N Pines Rd Spokane Valley WA 99206